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EOSIO™ Strategic Vision: Tooling EOSIO for Developers (Part 2 of 4)

While the EOSIO™ software ecosystem continues to grow, improving the developer experience building on EOSIO is at the forefront of our minds. In the EOSIO Strategic Vision, we identified four central points of focus for a collective approach to platform development; Scalability, Developers, Users, and Enterprises. This article focuses on enhancements for Developers and the tools that help them build.

To ease friction with software deployment our goal is to make the best tools available for developers building on EOSIO. Blockchain system architects need a means to inspect blocks and transactions, streamline compatibility for multiple authenticators, and ways to reliably audit and debug smart contracts. They need test environments and robust documentation to aid in deployment and on-boarding new talent to their organizations. In addition, overall improvements to smart contract searchability and functionality will expand the capabilities of EOSIO blockchain applications.

A smoother experience for developers means a clearer path to building a more robust and diverse blockchain ecosystem that provides users secure applications to fit their needs. Developers make this diverse ecosystem possible, and to help them deliver we are dedicated to improving their experience on EOSIO. Below are the initiatives we have outlined in the EOSIO Strategic Vision to move EOSIO closer to that goal.

The following topics of focus are detailed in the second pillar of the EOSIO Strategic Vision:

Graphical User Interfaces

Formerly, developers have been relegated to accessing nodeos (the EOSIO blockchain process) via a functional, albeit manual, command line interface. To improve this experience, we’re working on graphical user interfaces (GUIs) that can be utilized to launch nodeos, access block explorers for transaction and block inspection as well as other general development uses. We believe that offering tools with easily accessible user interfaces will provide greater flexibility and improve efficiency by allowing multiple developers to work in parallel on a single instance of nodeos. Our recent release of the EOSIO Explorer adds more visual tools into the EOSIO developer experience.

Advancing the Universal Authenticator Library

Announced earlier this year under EOSIO Labs™, Universal Authenticator Library (UAL) provides a single integration and associated front end components for developers to build into their applications to support a number of compatible authenticators. This simple, unified approach not only reduces development time when compared to integrating with each specific authenticator a developer wants to have available in their application, it provides a more seamless and consistent user experience to end users of EOSIO based applications improving usability across the growing ecosystem of blockchain applications. UAL makes it possible for developers to provide a unified front end experience in their application giving users the option to choose an authenticator that best suits their needs or personal preferences. The future of the UAL library will see a wider range of authenticator support as it is adopted across the ecosystem. 

EOSIO SDKs for Java and Swift

To better serve a user base across multiple mediums EOSIO blockchain application developers often take web applications and replicate them for the sake of mobile device interface. Developers can use both the recently released Java and Swift libraries to generate applications in native Android or iOS platforms, providing faster response time, and more finely tuned interfaces on the user end. As we receive feedback and continue to fine tune these SDKs, we will continue to release additional improvements.

Debugging Smart Contracts

Exploration continues to better deliver superior smart contract debugging resources. Promising research is underway on tools that let developers add breakpoints to their smart contract code so that functions can be reviewed in a step-through process during state exploration and auditing. More robust tools available for smart contract development will help developers build more seamless and secure contracts on EOSIO.

The EOSIO Testnet

As options for testing the deployment of smart contracts are limited, our team is working on a testing infrastructure that is integrated with our developer documentation and can guide the user through the process of testing on a testnet. Providing additional documentation as a guide will better onboard new developers to the EOSIO platform and make it easier for existing developers to run testing cycles before deploying their applications into production environments. 

Scalable Documentation Platform

While continuous updates are made at a rapid pace to improve many facets of the EOSIO source code, we are working in parallel to streamline our developer portal to provide a more seamless experience in sync with the scale of the EOSIO software codebase. Additionally, to maximize inclusivity in a global development environment we’re exploring multi-lingual support for core updates to documentation to provide a greater degree of support to non-english speaking developers in the ecosystem.

High Resolution State Tracking

In the past, developers tracked state differences on a per-block basis with official tools such as the State History Plugin. Going beyond blocks, we’re continuing to investigate how to give developers more control over behavioral review of smart contract state changes. This would make it possible to refine the scope of review to individual transactions or actions, offering developers greater flexibility with the implementation of data aggregator tools. Developers will be able to gather these data points for applications outside smart contracts and avoid associated logic errors. Tools that enhance data access, like the State History Plugin, provide efficient real-time access to on-chain data while architecture patterns such as Demux allow developers to offload storage and queries to a scalable database like MongoDB.    

Enhanced Smart Contract Functionality

Smart contracts need to be able to refer to one another and update their state data without causing clashes. When one smart contract accesses another smart contract’s state data it does so by referring to a corresponding table. When the accessing smart contract refers to another’s table, it incorporates that table’s structure into its code. If the smart contract whose data is being referred to ever makes a change to that table it will create a conflict. To remove this limitation we are testing the viability of enabling smart contracts to use a read-only layer to which other smart contracts can refer so each can update their data structures without any errors.

EOSIO Specification Repository

The community effort towards building stable, efficient, and scalable EOSIO blockchains remains ongoing and we will continue to provide support and resources. We are continuing to implement various facets of the EOSIO Strategic Vision and during this crucial stage the feedback we receive from researchers, application developers, and other members of the community makes an impact. This effort is spearheaded by the Specification Repository, an EOSIO Labs™ initiative to support greater synergy amongst stakeholders in our growing ecosystem. If interested in getting involved, please review the specifications drafted and provide feedback directly in GitHub as we work through the implementation of these features in EOSIO.

Continue reading about the additional pillars of the Strategic Vision below:

  • Scalability – More apps, more users
  • Users – Greater security, less friction
  • Enterprise – Greater flexibility, better compliance

Stay Connected

The EOSIO platform is expanding both in scope and technology, driven in part by community input. That feedback leads to improvements in previous software releases and assists with forthcoming innovations. While we continue to invent and integrate new solutions we intend to work hand in hand with the community towards a bright future. If you would like to offer feedback and work more closely with our team to improve EOSIO for developers, you can send our developer relations team an email at [email protected].

We are continuously updating our mailing list with future announcements and release notes. Subscribe today on the new EOSIO website.

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